Both compelling and careful
i am writing to thank you for taking on the
thorny question of race and racism in the academy in University Affairs (November 2010 issue),
and for working with Harriet Eisenkraft, whose
story was written so carefully, powerfully and
compellingly. I know there are many who appreciate the results – and I count myself among them.
Backlash is real, and can be awful, which is
why I appreciated Ryerson University President
Sheldon Levy’s comments in this article. In my
role as vice-president, equity, with the Canadian
Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences,
it isn’t difficult to persuade colleagues that equity
and diversity remain vital priorities of the Federation, as they are for the broader Canadian society.
Malinda S. Smith
Dr. Smith is an associate professor of political science at the
University of Alberta and vice-president, equity, with CFHSS.
Editor’s note: In reporting this article, Harriet interviewed Patricia Monture, a legal scholar and full professor
at the University of Saskatchewan, about her experiences
as an aboriginal scholar. Professor Monture died Nov. 17,
2010 at the age of 52. We have posted an audio excerpt
from that interview at www.universityaffairs.ca.
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Okay, what’s so weird?
the story “weird findings point to flaws in
research” (November 2010) summarized inter-
esting points from an article in Behavioural and
Brain Sciences. The University Affairs article pro-
vides food for thought about the extent to which
“psychology” may be the psychology of the PSY100
student. [The article reported on findings that
96 percent of the subjects that professors use for
behavioural research are people from Western,
Educated, Industrialized, Rich and Democratic
societies, thus WEIRD.]
Although the original article in Behavioural
and Brain Sciences notes a counter-argument, this
does not appear in the University Affairs piece.
The authors of the study had cited Douglas
Mook’s (1978, American Psychologist) paper “In
defense of external invalidity” that points out
that generalization of results is sometimes beside
the point. For example, you may wish to know
if something can happen or you might be citing
evidence that repudiates a general claim.
Moreover, and as cogently explained by Hans
Eysenck (1975, Bulletin of the Psychological Society),
science does not usually proceed by induction,
but by theory testing. A prediction is made, and
the theory survives if it is not falsified. Unless
the theory specifies otherwise, it is appropriate
to examine the prediction in almost any sample
Dr. McKelvie is a professor of psychology at Bishop’s University.
the photo of the 25-metre blue whale displayed
at the University of British Columbia (“Blue
whale skeleton finds its final resting place,”
October 2010) needs to be put in the context of
a 20-metre fin whale that has been on display
for 20 years at Science North, the fabulous sci-
ence centre in Sudbury, developed and directed
with the help of Laurentian University faculty.
As the website says, “How big is a whale? This
20-metre-long fin whale is the second largest
species on Earth, surpassed only by the blue
whale. Its skeleton was recovered on Anticosti
Island and brought back to Science North for
assembly by community volunteers.” The whale
can be seen from all sides because it is hung in
a huge glass staircase that goes around the whale.
Dieter K. Buse
Dr. Buse is professor emeritus of history at Laurentian University.
Le nom de Christophe Treisnel, professeur de
science politique à l’Université de Moncton, a été
mal orthographié dans l’article « Une francophonie
boréale ... et dynamique » du numéro de décembre
2010. Nous nous excusons de cette erreur.